2014 – Florida Everglades – 10,000 Islands

Believe it or not the Everglades National Park actually extends all the way out into the ocean and includes an area referred to as the 10,000 islands. In the summer of 2014 we loaded up 2 canoes with our backpacking gear and launched from Everglades City. We first had to cross the Chokoloskee Bay and then maneuver through a maze of mangrove islands until we finally reached the open ocean. We continued canoeing for hours in the hot sun until we reached Demijohn key. It was the first island with a beach that we came upon and we were all ready to be finished canoeing. Instantly we were swarmed by mosquitoes. I actually dove in the water to escape, but of course that was only a temporary solution. The bugs were unrelenting and had to have a family meeting where we agreed to try one more island the next day and if it was still bad we would cut the trip short. That night as I was laying in my tent I heard something banging into our beached canoes. I was freaked out cause we were on a small island in the middle of nowhere, but it turned out to be a Loggerhead turtle coming on land to lay eggs!

The next day we left Demijohn Key and canoed across the open ocean to Rabbit Key. Rabbit Key had bugs back in the forested area of the island, but on the beach we were bug free! When the tide went out, a large sandy bridge to the neighboring key emerged and gave us more real estate to work with. When the tide came in, all sorts of marine life enjoyed swimming on the sand bank. We saw fish, small sharks, and sting rays swimming here. We had a great time relaxing and fishing at Rabbit Key, but we decided to move on and try one more island. On Day 3 we canoed onwards to Pavilion Key. Pavilion Key was amazing! It was sandy all over and there were no mosquito issues here. We enjoyed it so much that we spent an extra day just hanging out and fishing here. We did get hit by one intense, but short lived storm while camped out on Pavilion. It came out of nowhere while we were cooking dinner and everyone scrambled to get into their tents to eat their half cooked dinner. My Dad dropped his hot dog in the sand and ate it anyways. Hayden and I tried to dig a trench around our tent to no avail.

After our time at Pavilion Key, we canoed back to Rabbit key for one last night and then canoed all the way back to Everglades City on the last day. We spent a total of 6 days and 5 nights in the 10,000 Islands.

What stands out the most about our trip to the 10,000 islands was the diversity of wildlife that we encountered on this trip. We caught tons of fish such as Seatrout, Snook, Flounder, Gafftopsail Catfish, Hardhead Catfish, and Ladyfish. We saw Nurse Sharks and Dolphins. We could hear the Dolphins communicate with each other and one evening as the sun was setting they continuously crashed in the water against the shore in what we believe to be hunting maneuvers. We also saw all types of exotic birds such as Pelicans, Ospreys, and what we think might have been a Flamingo (It was pink!). We also ran into tons of goofy Horseshoe crabs and armies of cute little Fidler Crabs.